BJEV-2

Earlier this year, it was reported that Chinese automaker Beijing Auto International Corporation (BAIC) was set to make Malaysia as its electric vehicle manufacturing hub for the region, and that its new plant Gurun, Kedah, was expected to be operational in July 2016.

Now, more progress has been reported – the automaker and its local JV partner Amber Dual have completed prototyping of its planned EV, and production is expected to begin by September or October next year, according to Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) CEO Madani Sahari. The car will not just be produced for local consumption, but for ASEAN markets as well.

In May, Amber Dual’s managing director Shabudin Md Saman said the project had kicked off in Gurun, with the bulk of R&D work set to centre around the conversion of the vehicle’s original left-hand drive system to right-hand drive, at the cost of about RM50 million. The Chinese automaker is aiming to produce between 2,000 and 3,000 EVs next year, with a gradual yearly increase.

The report had indicated that prototypes were expected to be ready in December, and so the latest news has the project on track as anticipated. The model on display then was an E150 EV – specs for the Chinese version include a motor putting out 61 hp and 144 Nm, with a 25.6 kWh lithium-ion battery offering the car an operating range of 150 km.

BAIC’s Gurun plant, which will cost between RM200 million and RM300 million to build, won’t just be an assembly plant – the facility will also serve as a marketing centre for BAIC vehicles for the entire ASEAN region.

Currently, Amber Dual’s website lists two other, more conventional offerings – a BAIC A113/A115 hatch and a van called the MB55. Interestingly, photos on the company’s website hints that Go Automobile Manufacturing (GoAuto), the folk behind the Great Wall M4, looks to be involved in the production of the MB55, or at least its production line is.